August 30, 2013

"Barely a third of U.S. senators pay their interns — and embarrassingly for Democrats, a party focused on workplace welfare, most of them are Republicans."

Under the heading "EXPLOITATION," Instapundit links to this piece in The Atlantic.

No pay is the ultimate defense against the accusation of low pay.

It's the difference between a girlfriend and a cheap prostitute.

If you don't have the money to buy something at a price that won't offend the seller, you should try to get it for free. Then the seller is flattered.

This is the way the world works. Not everything is commerce, or — I should say — not everything is always usefully portrayed as commerce. The only hypocrisy I see in Congress here is that whenever they want to use their Commerce Power, they'll argue that their regulatory target is commerce.

32 comments:

Matthew Sablan said...

Maybe they should join fast food workers in a strike? It can't hurt to slow Congress down a little.

Matt said...

The obvious economic forces at work here are the limited number of internships available; there's a lot of competition and among the young there's no doubt that the Democratic side of things are currently more popular (especially with them currently in power), meaning even more competition for limited spots.

The value gained from this kind of internship is much higher than a moderate wage; and these interns are smart to take the positions even if they are opposed to low minumum wages in their public political life.

Deirdre Mundy said...

So, why is it that profitable companies CAN'T offer unpaid internships, but Congress can? Shouldn't they have to play by their own rules?

And why is it that aspiring politicians are smart enough to be allowed these trade-offs, but aspiring businessmen are not?

m11_9 said...

Its also like a student loan, a "short term" sacrifice for a long term K-Street gig.

m11_9 said...

Its also like a student loan, a "short term" sacrifice for a long term K-Street gig.

MadisonMan said...

Neither Johnson nor Baldwin pay. I wonder if their interns are UW students, or just some friend's kid.

Henry said...

This is the way the world works. Not everything is commerce

Not everything is commerce in dollars.

Commerce in status, commerce in influence: these are just as competitive and coercive as commerce in dollars.

Leftists like to portray the for-profit sector (in research, in education) as uniquely corrupt. This is a pleasing fiction. Commerce in smugness tempts hipsters into lovely cul-de-sacs of self-deception.

Althouse linked to Upworthy the other day. Upworthy is a smugness clearinghouse.

kimsch said...

Ah but Matt, the Democrats were crying about unpaid interns (in the private sector), how it wasn't fair to make those poor "children" work for no pay. No amount of experience could be worth not being paid.

Hypocrites.

David said...

"It's the difference between a girlfriend and a cheap prostitute."

Ha! Good one, Althouse.

TosaGuy said...

Both WI senators do not pay their interns.

Hagar said...

Republican senators may also get more interns from the "respectable Republican cloth overcoat" crowd, while the Democrats get more of theirs from the children of the "revolving door" Wall St. and Gov't high fliers.

Lewke said...

Some would even say that unpaid internships are racist in effect if not intent as they favor those with outside economic means of supporting themselves (aka rich parents.)

Just another example of Democrat hypocrisy

Drago said...

Fen's Law.

Again.

And Again.

Ad infinitum...

MadisonMan said...

It is such a sad, sad, day when Congress loses the Moral High Ground.

Let us now weep for the Poor Senators who can no longer lecture Businesses.

Big Mike said...

The children of limousine liberals don't need no salary.

Cedarford said...

It's obscene.
If one looks at antecedent systems squiring for Knights, apprencticeships into guilds, manservant to the representative of the Mogul, a young man working for acceptance into the priest's ranks, and so on....there was a duty required of those rich and powerful ..that basically had aspirants by the balls. (Or various ladies in waiting, student nurses in 'practicums" - by their short hairs).

The expected thing was that since the Rich and powerful had an obligation as "Gatekeepers" into the trade or biz or Baron's or Bishops appointments.
It just Would-Not-Do to have the starving charge of an ironsmith, or Samurai's squire..living on the street, starving in tattered clothes, living by begging or assaulting passersbye.

So laws and customs arose to protect not just the exploited but the citizenry from those so desperate from abuse by the wealthy and high, they would be forced to prey on others.
1. Room and board. Adequate food and even wine rations in certain lands..
2. A modest stipend for clothes and such other personal grooming needs befitting their station.
3. Personal time for activities like worship, visiting parents,
4. Laws and customs stipulating what could and could not be done with apprentices. (they could be required to carry the masters luggage and clean up after him, they could not be forced to toil in the Master's fields with the peasants when aprentice work was spotty.)

***This is not about FREEDOM! to hire on whatever terms. It is about obligations of wealthy and powerful that are Gatekeepers to professions that all new Must Serve - to those they are bringing into those professions.****

Jane said...

In principle, I oppose unpaid internships (http://janetheactuary.blogspot.com/2013/07/unpaid-interns.html) but there is probably a legitimate exception for government in general, as a non-profit-making entity where you'd be hard-pressed to differentiate between "volunteer work" and "work-work" in the same way as "volunteer work" in general, is uncompensated. (It was an intern who gave us our Capitol tour, which could legitimately be considered "public service.") And even if it isn't "volunteer" work, are interns acting as glorified secretaries, or is much of their time spent receiving training of various kinds, sitting in on meetings, etc.? (I suspect the latter.)

cubanbob said...

lets boil this down to this: republicans are cheap bastards and democrats are freeloaders.

EDH said...

Until recently, here's how you'd interview for a congressional internship in some Massachusetts districts.

SteveR said...

Of course there's a perfectly good explanation for why. Just like there's a perfectly good explanation why someone working at McDonalds makes what they make.

Sigivald said...

If you don't have the money to buy something at a price that won't offend the seller, you should try to get it for free. Then the seller is flattered.

Doesn't Congress have money to pay staff with?

(Also, what Henry said.)

Left Bank of the Charles said...

What makes you think the Democratic congressmens' interns aren't also their girlfriends? Isn't that also the way it works?

damikesc said...

Professor, men always pay for sex. Girlfriends and wives aren't necessarily cheaper than prostitutes. Paying $100 for a hummer or taking the wife/girlfriend to an expensive restaurant in the hopes she puts out is a difference of little significance.

As far as this --- it's hypocrisy, but without hypocrisy, there wouldn't be a Democrat Party these days.

eddie willers said...

War On Women:

Ted Kennedy 1
Republicans 0

peoplearenotstupid.com said...

Honestly, reading the headline to this post, I really didn't expect to see it come with a "prostitution" tag. But that's just an example of why I find this blog so interesting!

Ann Althouse said...

"Professor, men always pay for sex. Girlfriends and wives aren't necessarily cheaper than prostitutes. Paying $100 for a hummer or taking the wife/girlfriend to an expensive restaurant in the hopes she puts out is a difference of little significance."

Once you talk about in-kind transfers and not cash, you're just taking about trading, with both sides giving and getting.

When one side gives money and the other side gives something other than money, you can say one is the buyer and one is the seller.

As long as you have consenting adults, you've got what can be perceived as a market and the market is determining the value.

If the sex the man is giving isn't good enough to equal the sex the woman is giving, he may have to supplement his side of the bargain to get what she has to give. She's supplementing her side too, so it's never just one side giving sex.

In some cases, one party to the sex is not only not getting value out of the sex itself, she/he is getting less than zero. That requires much supplementation!

Who the hell is on such bad terms with his wife that he has to take her to an expensive restaurant to have sex with her?

I assume you really only mean that the man has to keep her happy enough overall and that on any given night, to guarantee sex, a $$$$ restaurant will work.

Ann Althouse said...

I can't imagine anything drearier than getting taken out to an expensive restaurant by someone dull and realizing that he's trying to "pay" for a sexual encounter later.

It's reason to avoid going out to dinner!

Cedarford said...

SteveR said...
Of course there's a perfectly good explanation for why. Just like there's a perfectly good explanation why someone working at McDonalds makes what they make.

===============

You must be missing the MacDonalds worker movement. The growing swell of the peons of fast food biz that they have to organize and even strike, as is their right, over a min wage that pays less than being on welfare. Who are also questioning highly profitable firms shipping semi-skilled jobs overseas rather than keep them as a step up for Americans in menial jobs.
The reason is not just skills, but long and hard work by the rich and powerful. To collaborate together with HR consultants getting "standard wages" applied to all competitors throughout an industry... and lobby officials for laws to keep the wages of the less powerful suppressed or even lowered.
To get floods of illegals and H1-B visas to screw workers, maximize profits and wealth for a powerful and influential few at the top. Destroy the middle class, destroy upward mobility, and get filthy rich in the process.

Since 1973, the purchasing power of the minimum wage has eroded 32%.
Since 1991, the insiders have been able to freeze a "work for tips" wage of 2.13 an hour. And expand the workers stuck at that rate by expanding service industry workers "participating" in tip pools that just went to waiters, hotel porters, and so on back in 1973.

And America is now towards the bottom of industrialized nations in upward mobility. Lower management positions have been gutted. The min wage worker 40 years ago was a teen by average age. Now you have people making min wage after 5-10 years of steady good job performance.

We are seeing the working poor more and more say

n.n said...

Cedarford:

That list sounds eminently reasonable. It identifies necessities, and is capable of preserving individual dignity, while its implementation will not inherently sponsor corruption.

damikesc said...

I'd like to first say I have zero issues with prostitution, morally or ethically. It is a pure contractual agreement, no worse than doing a job one hates. Never used one myself --- never, honestly, even seen one in person myself --- but I don't find the profession to be all that loathsome.

As far as marriage, I am quite happily married. Been so for 5 years in October.

But life is trades. You do things to get things. It isn't a condemnation of anybody.

Big Mike said...

@damikesc, if you're any good she'll take you out to dinner.

Just sayin'

damikesc said...

She's stay at home. If she can afford to do so, I'm curious as to how.